Those five minutes on August 23 set off chaos in Kenosha, Wisconsin: Protests and looting spread through the lakeside city's streets, leaving burnt and boarded-up buildings across a swath of downtown. Two days later, the encounter sparked another tragedy, when a 17-year-old who claimed to be defending a business shot three other people during a confrontation, killing two. And Blake's shooting reverberated nationally, with NBA, MLS and MLB stars refusing to play in an unprecedented protest
Like other cell phone videos of police officers shooting or killing Black men, the 22-second clip of Officer Rusten Sheskey firing into Blake's back, filmed through the screen window of a neighbor's apartment across the street, ricocheted around the internet.
But authorities' refusal for days to confirm even the most basic details about Blake's shooting created a vacuum of information -- and even now, more than a week and a half after Blake was shot, the exact circumstances that led to his encounter with police are unclear. Officials said Sheskey and two other officers on the scene tried to tase Blake, who had an open warrant after being charged with sexual assault a month earlier, and that a knife was recovered in his car. The local police union has claimed that Blake was carrying the knife and that he struggled with officers, putting one in a headlock before the cell phone video starts.
But family and lawyers for Blake, who was left paralyzed from the waist down, say he was unarmed and was attending a birthday party for one of his kids. "They shot my son seven times. Seven times. Like he didn't matter," Jacob Blake Sr., Blake's father, told reporters. "But my son matters. He's a human being, and he matters."
Confusion also spread about the shooting during the protests, with critics asking how the White teenager armed with a military-style rifle, Kyle Rittenhouse, could have walked by police
after gunning down two people -- even as right-wing commentators called him a hero
who was just defending himself.
The two shootings, taking place in a swing county
of one of the 2020 election's most crucial battleground states, swiftly filtered into political talking points.
President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden both visited Kenosha the week after Blake's shooting. While touring burned-out buildings and meeting with law enforcement officials Tuesday, Trump declared